God dang there were some good stories in my two favorite papers the last couple of days.
Good stories get me excited…Can you tell?
First, The Star…
:: Feature writer Don Bradley had an outstanding front-page story about America’s favorite road, Route 66, in Monday’s paper.
People from Europe, Australia and Asia — as well as the U.S. — are expected to converge on Joplin later this week for the “Route 66 International Festival.” It’s the first time the festival has been in Missouri.
I had no idea that the sense of adventure and nostalgia associated with the road had captured the imagination of people overseas, too.
The story was accompanied by a graphic (compliments of Dave Eames) highlighted by images of old travel guides and two maps. One map showed the route from St. Louis down through the southwest part of the state — Rolla, Springfield, Carthage — to Joplin. The other traced the length of the road from Chicago to the Los Angeles area.
Bradley conveyed some excellent information, such as that 85 percent of the original highway, which has been decommissioned, is still in use as city streets and state and county roads.
“These days,” Bradley wrote, “you just have to work a little harder to get your kicks on Route 66.”
…One caveat about the story: The editors chose to run a couple of lame file photos on the “jump.” Too cheap to send a photographer out for a day or two to get some fresh, good photos.
P.S. A little background on Bradley…As a young man, he was a “runner” at The Star, delivering parcels from one department to another. One of the offices where he stopped regularly was that of the late Jim Hale, the first Star publisher after the paper was purchased by publicly traded Capital Cities (later Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.) in 1977. Bradley would chat regularly with Hale’s secretary, June Dacus, and told her of his dream of becoming a reporter. Dacus put in a good word for Bradley with Hale, and pretty soon Bradley found himself working in the second-floor newsroom.)
:: In the first of several stories The Star will run this week commemorating the 40th anniversary of George Brett’s first game with as a Kansas City Royal, columnist Sam Mellinger wrote about Brett’s call-up from Omaha and his first game as a Royal in 1973. (The Royals beat the White Sox in Chicago, and Brett got one hit in four times at bat.)
This story was 62 column inches long, enough to cover about 3/4 of a page. But it read like it was 30 inches. When I reached the end, I couldn’t believe I had read the whole thing, and I looked back to see if maybe I had skipped a column along the way…When a reporter can write a story that reads that fast, he’s really done a great job.
On to The Sunday New York Times…
I almost never read the SundayStyles section, although I should, but the cover story about Caroline Kennedy caught my eye and I dove in. In addition to 39 inches of rich, interesting information about Kennedy, whom President Obama has appointed to be the new ambassador to Japan, the story included compelling photos of Kennedy at various stages of her life, including when she was a teenager.
Two of the most interesting glimpses Kennedy that reporter Jacob Bernstein gave the readers were that Kennedy rides the subway in New York and socializes with people all across the political spectrum, including conservative media baron Rupert Murdoch.
Having been hooked by the Styles section, I proceeded to read two other excellent stories in the section…
:: Matteson Perry, a Los Angeles-based screen writer wrote about his romance with a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” One of her distinguishing and most alluring features was that she had a tattoo of a phoenix covering the left side of her torso…(Yes, Perry got to explore the tattoo and more.) The story was the latest in a series titled “Modern Love.”
Here’s how Perry summarized the make-up of an MPDG:
Though often perky, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl will be troubled as well. She straddles the narrow line between quirky and crazy, mysterious and strange, sexy and slutty; she is perfectly imperfect. And that imperfection is the key, because a Manic Pixie Dream Girl must be messed up enough to need saving, so the powerless guy can do something heroic in the third act.
(Can we identify with that, fellas?)
The story of the romance, Perry said, was “one I stole from the movies.” Of course, the affair turned sour.
So our story ended, not with credits rolling to freeze our relationship in eternal bliss, but with crying and the division of possessions. (I kept the dining room chairs; she kept the old-timey typewriters.)
P.S. Perry is working on his first book, a collection of dating stories…I’ll be pre-ordering that book.
:: I finish with another fascinating “love” story — about a 59-year-old novelist, Joyce Maynard, and a 61-year-old lawyer, Jim Barringer, who teamed up on Match.com. Each was divorced with three grown children.
The story — part of The Times’ “Vows” series — explored their contrasting personalities: He, patient, wry and brilliant; she, a person who lives “with lots of speed and soul.”
They were married on July 6 in a meadow in Harrisville, N.H. The bride and groom wrote their own vows. Part of Ms. Maynard’s vows went like this:
I love it that in your eyes, I am the babe of the universe, although that calls your eyesight into question…So long as I can walk, I will dance with you. I will bake you apple pies and never wear flannel nightgowns.
Let’s hope that this union fulfills the hope and promise we so often see at the end of a movie.